From Tracie: I Will Be Wasting Time On The Internet And Maybe Changing The World

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

I Will Be Wasting Time On The Internet And Maybe Changing The World

I've been doing some exciting things lately - including attending my very first blogging conference a couple of weeks ago. It is hard to believe I've been blogging for nine years and just now made it to a blogging conference. I learned a lot of things there, and left with some serious blogging inspiration. And life inspiration. I have a few posts started about Bloggy Boot Camp, taking a MegaBus, and helping my best friend ready the nursery for her new baby. Those will all be coming to your computer screen soon.

Tonight I want to talk about other things.

Mostly because I'm still working on the posts above, and need to edit pictures. But also because I read an article today that reinforced some feelings I've been having about blogging.

There is a big focus in the blogging world to only publish polished pieces. To think of things in terms of "evergreen" content. To have the best graphics and titles and SEO. To view every blog post as a resume. To not put out anything that is less than perfect.

I think this is to our detriment.

Before you object, I'm not saying to throw junk out there on your blog. This is not about pushing mediocrity. A little editing is everyone's friend. It is beautiful to take the time to craft something truly special with your words. Your blog absolutely can bring opportunities into your life, and it is smart to be mindful of what you are putting out there for the world to read.

But I have been doing this blogging thing for nine years, and I remember when things were a little less structured and maybe...just a little bit...more fun.

I want to give you my best writing, my best stories, my best thoughts. But sometimes I just want to send a message out to the world. Sometimes I want to say, "I'm so excited that Grimm is back on tv this year! Can we talk about Nick-getting-his-powers-back theories?" Sometimes I need to say, "I'm struggling today. Your prayers would mean a lot," and I don't have it in me to write a beautiful example of depression that will open people's eyes and change the world. Sometimes I just have one picture to share - and it isn't the most perfect picture in the world, but it makes me happy and I think it might make you happy, too. And sometimes the little things in my day aren't enough to make a whole post, but I still want to share them with you.

Social media could be the place for a lot of these things, but as much as I love social media (and I really do), I like having all of my words together in one place. I like that my blog is a record of my life for the last nine years. Almost a decade of big and small things. Some more exciting than others. All important to me in some way. It means something to me.

This isn't true of just my blog. Your blog means something to me, too.

I love the blogging community as a whole, and the opportunity we have all been given to share pieces of our lives. It is a powerful thing. But sometimes it is just an, "I am watching Grimm, and you should watch it, too, so we can talk about it" kind of thing. And that is okay.

I am concerned that the pressure to always be on, always be perfect, and always have a post that lends itself to a great pinnable graphic, is stealing some of the soul from blogging. I want to get that soul back.

The University Of Pennsylvania is offering a new creative writing class called Wasting Time On The Internet. I know some of you are sighing exasperatedly and mumbling about the state of higher education just looking at that title. We can debate the merits of the class, but I really enjoyed the explanation the professor, Kenneth Goldsmith, gave for his new class,
"I'm very tired of reading articles in the New York Times every week that make us feel bad about spending so much time on the internet, about dividing our attention so many times. I think it's complete bullshit that the internet is making us dumber. I think the internet is making us smarter. There's this new morality built around guilt and shame in the digital age."
He went on to compare the writing that happens online to poetry.
"We're writing an enormous amount, but somehow the culture keeps devaluing that. I think, yes, this is real writing. If we can claim that writing as poetry, that alienation and guilt can be expunged and the writing can be celebrated. We can look forward to wasting time on the internet instead of deriding it."
I don't know that everything I write online could be considered poetry. I don't even particularly enjoy most poetry. But I do like this thought that "we're all building an incredible portrait of what it's like to be alive now." That is true, and pretty awesome.

So maybe not all the time we waste on the internet is really a waste. I've felt that way for a long time - especially where blogging is concerned. And I'll happily submit these words to the poetry of the internet, with the hope that they inspire you to write a little bit more, and not hold back the things that don't feel big enough to share.

We can change the world with our words tomorrow. Today, let's just share a little bit of ourselves with our friends. You might be surprised to find that this is actually the first step on the path of changing the world.


  1. Tracie, you said this quite perfectly and beautifully. I admit I get caught up in this trap myself and I did totally start blogging just for me and to share a bit of myself on the internet. And I hope it doesn't necessarily get lost in translation at times and that yes I can truly change the world a bit with some of my own words and message. Thanks for this and definitely gave me a bit to mull over today :)

    1. Your little bits of you are definitely shining through in your blog!! :)

      I think you have a great mix.

  2. Yes! This! I just signed up for NaBloPoMo and plan to post everyday in November. I've never done it before, but always wanted to. I'm hoping it will help get me back to my blogging roots. It's so overwhelming to try and be PRO all the time when sometimes I just want to discuss Brett Michaels being bald under that bandana.

    1. You know? I was thinking about it. I did it last year, and it was HARD, but really rewarding. This last month, I have been so slack in my own blogging due to work, I don't know if it would just turn out to be much too much. It is hard to say. Thankfully I still have two days to decide!

      We should all discuss Brett Michael's baldness. The issue is real, y'all. It is real.

  3. Thank you, Tracie....What a wonderful way to begin my day! When I read a blog posting, I look for the person--their heart, their struggles/joys. I read to meet them, know them. And, though we've never met, I feel like I know you--beautiful spiritual YOU. Thank you ....... hugs from the Midwest....

  4. Ooh girl, you are singing my song!!! Your entire middle section of this post, from "I want to give you my best writing..." all the way to "...I want to get that soul back." speaks to me!

    Sometimes I REALLY long for the days of how blogging used to be...

    Thank you for these words...

  5. I think a HUGE part of this mind-set is this thought that blogging needs to be purposeful to an audience. I think it needs to be purposeful to ME! Of course, if the blogger's primary goal is one of generating income (which so many seem to be these days) the writing would need to be much more purposeful *shrugs*

  6. I write for me, I write for my readers, but mainly I write to ENJOY it. I don't write for numbers - I write to build meaningful connections. THAT is what matters to me. I think you're right - we should all be able to feel free to write whatever the heck we like.

  7. It's hard not to get caught up in the hype - and wondering if maybe *this* post has what it takes to go viral. But for the most part, I write what I have on my heart and what I have TIME to write... which these days is not much. I'm with you though, sometimes it's nice to just write about the small stuff. because life is what happens in the small stuff. xoxo

  8. Tracie, I can't tell you how much I love this post, and how I wish I could have articulated this as well as you have.

    Some of my favorite pieces are ones that I write on the fly, more like word vomit, not carefully crafted SEO-friendly, Pinterest-searchable, or life lesson-worthy.

  9. I've been blogging for four years and I still don't really get SEO or evergreen content and whatnot. Sure, I'd love if ALL of my posts were works of art, but hey, life happens. I totally do things on my own terms, which is probably really great for my mental state but maybe not my chances of going viral! (which is ok too)
    Sad I missed the conference but with my sister's wedding the weekend after, I couldn't travel twice.

  10. "...I like having all of my words together in one place. I like that my blog is a record of my life for the last nine years."

    Thank you, thank you, thank you. I've been SO torn lately between wanting to blog and not having time/worrying it's not *enough*/embarrassed by the fact no one notices anymore because it's been so long since I've blogged consistently that it leaves me frozen.

    Thank you for the reminder that it's not about comments or page views: it's about writing for ME, about documenting MY life, and if someone takes the time to read it, great; if not, no biggie (I actually somehow forgot - probably because I haven't been taking the time to emowordvomit - that I used to rely very heavily on my blog as the keeper of moments, dates, details).


  11. While I don't disagree about "Wasting Time on the Internet", I _do_ have problems with today's social media circles. If you don't have time to WRITE something, that does not give you "artistic right" to type everything in text shorthand, and expect everyone to understand what you're saying!

    OMFG! I totes txt that 2 mi frnd! TTYL!

    If anything, that just makes me LOSE brain cells more than anything else..